Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Sham


Book Title: The Sham
Author: Ellen Allen
Date Started: October 10th 2014
Date Completed: November 18th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Rating: Three stars

Thanks to Ellen Allen for approaching me to review this book.

The Sham started off really interestingly, but as more and more parts of the story were added it just became too confusing and strange for me. However, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, and I think some other people might have a different reaction to the book, but personally I found it very hard to follow and I ultimately couldn't end up enjoying it as much as I'd hoped. It's also an important point to mention that this book is not for younger readers as there is some disturbing material included.

Emily has moved to the Sham, where the people are as boring and uneventful as the place is. Until they aren't. When Jack first turns up and girls start to go missing, things seem to be getting a little more exciting. Until fingers are turned towards her new boyfriend, and she discovers Jack has more things to hide than living in the wood.

I was quite impressed by Allen's writing, and right from the first page the flow of the words jumped out at me. Even with complex writing styles, authors sometimes struggle with the way their sentences flow off the tongue, but Allen's narrative really worked nicely for me. The chronological jumps were also interesting, though I think they dwindled slightly more after the middle of the book.
However, though I enjoyed parts of Allen's writing, the style was too informal for me to be comfortable with. The text it littered with culture references and riddled with slang and it just hit one of my pet peeves. But honestly the biggest issue I had with the writing was the fact that a lot of emotions were directly stated to the reader, rather than being implied through the actions and atmosphere: we were told people were angry, but I just didn't feel it in the atmosphere and would have liked to make my own deduction from the way the characters acted and spoke to each other.

I'm pretty sure that the pretty much only - though really big - reason that I didn't get along with The Sham was because there was just too much going on. Too many names to remember; too many issues being addressed; too many little stories conflicting with the main one; too many relationships to keep track of. In such a short book, to have so many things pushed into an actually long duration of time it just meant that nothing was developed or explained enough for me to understand or follow anything. I didn't know what was happening for the majority of the book because I couldn't remember who this person was, or what kind of relationship these people had. And for a murder mystery, it's extremely important that the storyline is clear, because what the characters are investigating is deliberately the opposite. I also wasn't a huge fan of the lack of build up for the character's relationship and the instant trust felt between them without any reason for the whole story.
I do honestly think there's some really good ideas and story lines in this book, but they're lost somewhere in the middle of everything else going on and it's hard to invest yourself in either a whole story patched together through little things, or a tiny section of the book that lasts for a very short amount of time.

This book has a lot of characters, and while I might be able to name around six of them, the majority are just lost to me, and I don't think I could really differentiate any from each other.
Emily's narration was definitely one of the strongest I've ever read and she's undeniably the one character that stands out among the rest. But, unfortunately, I just didn't like her very much and found it very hard to sympathise with her because of this. I'm not even sure what it was about Emily that made me dislike her, but I found it very hard to look at anything in the same way as her.
There isn't much to say about Jack's character because he was very unbelievable to me. His relationship with Emily happened far too quickly and from then on Jack's character seemed to constantly be changing without any real consequence and just added to the confusion of the story for me.

The pacing was just too fast with too much happening. I can't personally tell if it's the fast pace to blame or the fact that there's too much going on, but everything was very hard to follow for me and the book was just too short for things to be developed or explored how I would like.

So, though The Sham really wasn't for me, I don't think everyone's responses would be the same as mine, so I'd encourage readers to have a go if they're interested in more unusual contemporary mystery stories. I do understand that the book is intended to be a little strange, but it just was a bit too much for me. I would recommend devoting attention to this book, since there is so much going on at the same time.

Image Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/

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